Got your Red-Blue 3D glasses handy? If you do, check out the latest severe storm imagery from NASA.
NASA’s Langely Research Center in Hampton, VA is making 3-D imagery available. Following a severe storm outbreak that brought large hail, high winds and tornadoes to parts of Texas and Oklahoma on April 23 and 24, Langley scientists Kris Bedka and Konstantin Khlopenkov collaborated to create a 3D composite loop of satellite imagery collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s GOES-17 and GOES-16 satellites (visible above). GOES-17 is in a geostationary orbit (high Earth orbit that allows satellites to match Earth’s rotation) southeast of Hawaii and GOES-16 is in a geostationary orbit approximately due south of Virginia’s Hampton Roads region.
Since the two satellites collect images as often as every 30 seconds, and within just a few seconds of one another, combining imagery this way could be a game changer for researchers who study thunderstorms.
“Pairing the high-resolution 3D view with the very rapidly updating imagery really opens up a lot of doors for us in unraveling storm dynamical processes and how they lead to severe weather,” said Bedka.
The detailed 3D perspective also gives scientists a more accurate way to measure cloud height, which they currently do through a bit of inference by taking satellite-observed cloud temperature and matching it to weather prediction models, which provide gridded height and temperature profiles throughout the world. This method works well most of the time, but weather models do not always correctly simulate temperatures near the tops of powerful storms. By also incorporating the best possible 3D rendering of the clouds at the highest possible time intervals, scientists can track patterns visually and better unravel severe-weather processes. Bedka and Khlopenkov are currently working on an algorithm for automating cloud height based on the 3D imagery.